Friday, 4 February 2011

Formal Ecumenism, Fresh Expressions and the New Churches

An important piece of work currently under development is the Joint Anglican Methodist Working Party on the Ecclesiology of Emerging Expressions of Church (JAMWPEEEC). 
One theological question they are addressing is, when does something that is an expression of Christian action become a church?  When should it be treated as a church and indeed treat itself as a church? 

Many new churches currently have no link with formal ecumenism, or understanding of its history or purpose.  There is no established link between fresh expressions and ecumenism.  The tendency is for each to talk internally amongst people who agree with each other.

The situation is complicated because the churches differ in their understanding of what they mean by church.  So, the Orthodox understanding of the Church, for example, means that to them all churches with the possible exception of the Roman Catholic Church are fresh expressions!  Ecumenists in all traditions need to find a way to move beyond presenting a view and discuss this question. 

The discussion is currently very imbalanced and we are failing to create an ecumenical space for the necessary conversations to take place.  This also means resources need to be found for these conversations.

This is the second of three theological issues identified at a recent meeting of National Ecumenical Officers.  They are all red hot issues, as yet unresolved.  So, please add your comments, particularly if they relate to how you experience this issue locally.  Comments will be passed to the relevant people.
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